Of Mice and Men Pre-Reading Activities

Instructor: Sharon Linde

Sharon has a Masters of Science in Mathematics

Getting ready to read 'Of Mice and Men' with your students? Set them up for success with these engaging pre-reading activities. In this lesson, we'll outline several activities you can do with students of mixed ability levels.

Pre-Reading Activities

When we grab a book off the shelf, most of us just dive right in and start reading. Why should it be any different with our students? For one thing, our 'grab and go' reading style is typically for enjoyment or light learning. When we read novels like Of Mice and Men with students, we're actually focused on teaching a thing or two. Also, we know that students learn and respond best to reading when their brains are prepped and ready to receive information.

Our brains are wired in a way that makes important connections easier to stay put when there is prior schema, or information. Doing pre-reading activities prepares your students for reading in a way that allows the text and content to make more sense, more quickly. You'll be able to dig more deeply into nuanced themes and analyze characters and plot if students have already become familiar with a few concepts.

Pre-Reading Activities - Of Mice and Men

So, now that you're in the know, go ahead and take a look at some activities that you can have your students complete in order to prepare for the classic novel Of Mice and Men. These are designed for multi-level abilities and can be adapted to any skill set. Take a look.

  • Research the Author

John Steinbeck, the author of Of Mice and Men, is a complex character himself. Help students get to know a little about him and the inspiration for his novel by asking students to research Steinbeck. Have students write a short essay on his early life, family, and experiences or create a classic 'W - Page' detailing who, what, where, when, how and why about the author, complete with images. Hang completed assignments around the room to set the tone for the novel.

  • Prepare for the Experience

Students will likely have limited understanding of the Great Depression, migrant workers or the Dust Bowl. Generate a list of questions about these topics with students, then assign small groups or partners the task of finding the answers. Have students report their findings on chart paper, then present information to the class.

  • Connecting to the Setting

The setting of the novel Of Mice and Men is helpful to understanding basic themes. Connect students to the setting by having them first take a closer look at their own neighborhood, or personal setting.

Have students take a photo of a place where they spend a lot of time, like their bedrooms, library, or the football field. After they snap the photo, instruct them to write a paragraph describing the place. Students then share their setting with the class, along with the description. Notice and discuss the language students use to describe setting.

Next, show images of the places Steinbeck's characters travel to in Of Mice and Men along with the wording he uses to describe such places. Compare the students' descriptions to Steinbeck's. Compare how he uses descriptive language to create vivid mental images and help plot and theme develop.

  • Examine Friendship

Friendship is a central theme in the novel Of Mice and Men. Help students prepare for this by examining their definitions of friendship.

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